The spending habits of the Obama administration and Congress essentially tell future generations to bend over and take it, but does this justify a state mandate to teach them about anal intercourse in public school?
Colorado’s existing program on teen pregnancy and dropout prevention must not be enough, at least for two Colorado legislators. Representative Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) and Senator Nancy Todd (D–Aurora) have sponsored Colorado HB 13-1081 concerning human sexuality education. And yes, the term “anal intercourse” is specifically mentioned on page 7, line 24. Why in the world are our legislators concerned with teaching our kids about anal intercourse, and when did this concern become the responsibility of state lawmakers?
What’s In The Bill?
Current law does not require Colorado schools to teach sex education. However, this 23 page bill mandates that Colorado educators teach sex education in public schools (including charter schools) and it dictates a curriculum that goes far beyond abstinence. The bill also creates a grant program – not under the Department of Education, but rather under the Department of Public Health and Environment.
An oversight entity will assess available funding opportunities and work with appropriate state departments to apply for federal and state grant money to fund the program. It is unknown as to how many people will serve on the entity, what expertise is required of them, if they will be appointed or not, and by whom. Will they be paid, and if so, how much?
There is no fiscal note attached to the bill, but once the program is funded, the oversight entity will work with the department and develop criteria for grant applications and for determining who will receive grant money and for how long.
What is included in the curriculum?
The bill stipulates that the comprehensive human sexuality education program must be “evidence-based, culturally sensitive, medically accurate, age-appropriate, reflective of positive youth development approaches,” and that comply with statutory content standards.
This language exists in current statue (C.R.S. 22-1-110.5 (2012) ), but because the program has not been funded, there has been no testing in schools on these sensitive topics, and therefore little-to-no attention has been paid to the details.
Terms are defined vaguely, and it remains unclear as to who decides what is “age-appropriate” and “culturally sensitive.”
Subsection (8) of existing statue defines “sexual abstinence” as “means not engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse or genital skin-to-skin contact.” In order to teach how not to engage in such acts, the curriculum will demand that each act be subsequently defined in classrooms.
So much for the McGuffey basics.
In light of the current shortcomings of Colorado public schools, does it make sense to increase funding for sexual education programs? Twenty six percent of the state’s 3rd graders cannot read at grade level; that means over 16,000 children in Colorado public schools are failing. And, according to Colorado TCAP (Transitional Colorado Assessment Program), state scores are mostly flat:
- Nearly 30% of the state’s students are not reading at grade level across all grades
- About 44% are NOT proficient or above in math
- About 46% percent – are NOT writing at grade level
- About 51% are NOT proficient in Science
It was widely reported earlier this week that high school graduation rates have topped 78% nationally, the highest since 1976; but graduation rates mean nothing if we are graduating our kids without basic proficiencies in reading, math, and science.
Wouldn’t money be better spent on schools to help them focus on improving academic achievement? How about funding a program to put better learning tools and technologies in the hands of every student?
Can parents opt-out?
There is no irony that this bill was introduced just one week before the annual observance of School Choice Week. Schools which receive funding for local comprehensive health education programs are required to implement an opt-out policy rather than an opt-in policy for comprehensive health and sexuality education programs
The version of the bill now in play under Colorado’s gold dome does include the option for parents to provide written notification to excuse their child (without penalty or additional assignment) from a portion of the planned curriculum.
So don’t worry parents, you do have a choice; you just might get one more opportunity to embarrass your kid and single them out by pulling them out of class on the day they show “that video,” or invite the local Planned Parenthood representative to present.
Planned Parenthood in the classroom?
In a CBS4 interview, Planned Parenthood educator Rebecca Engel said most children do not receive the sex education they need at home.
“Not everyone is able to have that conversation at home so they need other access to this information,” said Engel.
Engel teaches sex ed in schools that allow it but she believes too many schools offer limited information, misinformation or no information.
If Planned Parenthood is not invited to teach the class, then school staff will be teaching the religious, moral and ethical view, which means more of your tax dollars meant for students will be used to train these teachers how to teach religion, morality, and ethics.
Is the school now becoming your church, and when did Planned Parenthood become the expert on what goes on inside your home?
What about local control?
HB 13-1081 stipulates that the state board of health, not the department of education or local school boards, shall set forth rules for the implementation of the program, leaving school districts with the bill to implement it.
Jefferson County School Board members from Colorado’s largest school district, serving around 85,000 students, did express some concern at their board of education meeting last Thursday. When asked about local control, Director Laura Boggs, the lone Republican on the board, had this to say:
“Colorado provides that the local school board shall have control of the instruction in their districts. I am amazed with all of the economic issues facing our state that we have legislators who want to take on issues that should not be in their control.”
Douglas County School Board member, Meghann Silverthorn, also commented:
“Pursuing federal dollars, and the associated strings that are inevitably attached, invites increased oversight and less control for school districts and Colorado families. Compounding the problem is the sensitive subject matter. The opt-out provision does not adequately address the concerns of parents who wish to provide education on certain sexual topics to their own children in an age-appropriate manner. The bill shifts power over this from parents to government.”
Calls were made to both Representative Duran’s and Senator Todd’s offices for comment, but neither were returned.
With Democrats in control of both legislative chambers in Colorado, it will be interesting to see where emphasis is placed on school funding, and it remains to be seen if 2013 will really be the year of the student.